Pima County made progress Thursday on verifying and counting more of the estimated 80,000 ballots that weren't counted on Election Day.

But the county still has around 50,000 ballots to go. Elections officials don't expect to have them all counted until the end of next week, leaving a number of close races unsettled.

The County Recorder's Office finished verifying the signatures on the envelopes containing more than 54,000 early ballots Thursday, said Elections Director Brad Nelson.

He said he expects election workers to finish removing those ballots from their envelopes and putting them through vote scanners by Saturday. That still leaves the more time-consuming process of verifying 26,000 provisional ballots before they can be be counted.

County election offices statewide reported a high number of early ballots dropped off at the last minute at polling places, as well as an abnormally large number of provisional ballots cast in some locations. An updated report from the Secretary of State's Office says there were 631,274 uncounted early and provisional ballots on election night.

A lot of close races won't be decided until they're all counted, like race for Congress in District 2, where the outstanding Pima County ballots, as well as more than 14,000 ballots in Cochise County, must be counted before a winner can be declared.

When they stopped counting Thursday night, just 81 votes separated Republican Martha McSally from Democratic incumbent Ron Barber.

A number of legislative and school board seats, as well as the city's $100 million bond proposal, hang in the balance.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 573-4346 On Twitter @BeckyPallack.